Tuesday 12 December 2017

Harrington gets worked up in desperate bid to rescue Ryder Cup ambitions

Karl MacGinty at st andrews

AS the crow flies, Padraig Harrington wasn't too far away from the final-round action at St Andrews yesterday; yet the Dubliner couldn't have been further removed from his British Open heroics at Carnoustie and Royal Birkdale.

After missing the cut for the third time in his last six Major championships last Friday, Harrington stayed on in Scotland at the weekend for two days of intensive work with several members of his back-room team.

Clearly, no efforts were being spared in Harrington's bid to get his act back together as he toiled away for hours at a time under the watchful eye of his Scottish coach Bob Torrance.

With mind-guru Dr Bob Rotella and a couple of representatives of Wilson, his golf club manufacturer, also seen in attendance on Saturday, it had all the appearances of a brainstorming session.

After missing the cut by four, on six over par, on Friday, Harrington said his usually reliable putting and wedge play hadn't been up to scratch as he posted rounds of 73 and 77 over the opening two days.

Yet he appeared to be doing extensive work on his swing as well, even hitting a large number of shots with a large, green rubber band looped around his right knee and anchored to his golf bag!

US Open hero Graeme McDowell hopes that Harrington gets his act together in time for October's bid to wrest the Ryder Cup back from the United States at Celtic Manor.

As things stand, the Dubliner probably needs a victory either at the upcoming '3' Irish Open in Killarney, the Bridgestone World Championship at Firestone or US PGA (or a prominent top-10 finish at all three) to make Colin Montgomerie's team under his own steam. Asked if he believed Harrington would get one of Monty's three wild cards if needed, McDowell candidly replied: "I think it just depends how he's playing at the time.

"On current form, maybe not, but he played pretty well at Firestone last year and he's got a pretty good track record at the US PGA," added the Ulsterman.

"If Padraig starts playing a bit better, he's the kind of guy we need on the team. He's a great match player. Playing well enough, he's definitely a great pick."

McDowell finished in tied 23rd spot on three under after a fourth-round 70, saying he "putted diabolically" and "missed a ton of chances" over four rounds at the Old Course.

"I played beautifully today, I really did, my best all week. Yet I finished in an ambulance. I three-putted 16 and four-putted 17 from the front edge of the green," he admitted. "Just stupid stuff.

"I didn't have it on the greens at all this week," added McDowell (right), who had 10 three-putts among his 132 putts at the Open, 36 on Saturday and another 34 yesterday.

"Tee to green I actually controlled my ball pretty well. I just putted diabolically to be honest, kind of unlike me. I normally like this kind of links green. I normally read them pretty well."

McDowell's focus, especially over six to eight-footers, was undermined by fatigue following last month's victory at Pebble Beach. He's relishing a complete break this week and the opportunity to recharge his batteries.

"I maybe could have done with using those two weeks after Pebble a little bit more wisely, but you need to celebrate. You want to enjoy yourself," he explained.

"I prepared as well as I could the last fortnight but there definitely was a sense of coming down this week.

"I think cloud nine is down to about cloud five, and with a new Major champion crowned today, it's going to take a bit of the focus off me, which is good."

Irish Independent

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